Sarah Ward

The Shrouded Path

""A beautifully written and understated thriller..." "


November 1957. Six teenage girls walk in the churning Derbyshire mists, the first chills of winter in the air. Their voices carrying across the fields, they follow the old train tracks into the dark tunnel of the Cutting. Only five reappear on the other side.

OCTOBER 2017. Feverishly fixated on a childhood friend, Nina's dying mother makes a plea: 'Find Valerie'.

DC Connie Childs - off balance after her last big case - is partnered with a new arrival to Brampton, DC Peter Dahl. Following up on what seems like a routing death by natural causes, DC Childs' old instincts kick in, pointing her right back to one cold evening in 1957. As Connie starts to broaden her enquiries, the investigation begins to move increasingly close to home.

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DC Connie Childs takes a step back and her boss, DI Francis Sadler takes centre stage as a suspicious death has echoes of a disappearance in 1957. I'm a big fan of Sarah Ward's crime fiction series. They're subtle, character driven novels which rely heavily on the interaction between the detectives rather than car chases and explosions of city-set fiction. It's this beautifully written prose with the stunning Derbyshire scenery and the darkness of human behaviour that Ward captures so well making this series a joy to read. I'm often reminded of Ann Cleeves' Shetland novels when I read a book by Sarah Ward. They both use the location to dramatic effect, and understand the psyche of the everyday people who litter their novels. Every character, every chapter, every line of dialogue has a purpose, and nothing is included for sensationalism. Childs and Sadler are a formidable double act. They work well together and have their own personal idiosyncrasies making them appear as real detectives rather than two-dimensional characters. All the players in Ward's books are well-drawn and used to perfection. I'd like to see Sadler and Childs work together more as they naturally spark each other off. Childs seemed rather lost at times in 'The Shrouded Path' until Sadler returned to work. A beautifully written and understated thriller, the Connie Childs series is going from strength to strength and Sarah Ward is a talented and natural storyteller.

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